The pairing of a chemical potential and its associated concentration rate in the thermodynamic identity is well known. The existence of an experimentally determinable molar volume as a function of molar concentrations is also widely used in chemical engineering. What is perhaps less known and infrequently used is the fact that a spatially nonuniform molar volume leads to a field of geometrically incompatible eigenstrain, or eigentransformation in finite deformation. This incompatibility forces the material environment to deform, and the result is a strain energy trapped inside the material body. The change of this energy with respect to the eigentransformation is a generalized configurational stress, which, in the limit as the eigentransformation tends to the identity transformation, tends to the classical energy momentum tensor of Eshelby , or the so-called configurational stress. It is shown that the generalized configurational stress is an integral part of the chemical potentials that are responsible for atomic diffusion. This cycle of cause and effect is demonstrated in an axially symmetric setting where the material configuration is taken to be cylindrically orthotropic.
Symmetry can be used in many occasions to bare the simple meaning of a complex mathematical expression hiding under the disguise of tensors and index notation. We used it to elucidate the “missing” term in surface chemical potential in 1996  and are now applying it to identify the chemical potential in the bulk. Both Professor Thomas C. T. Ting and I are civil engineering graduates of Tai-Da, the world-renowned National Taiwan University, but did not know each other until we joined UIC. It has been a wonderful friendship of many stimulating anisotropic discussions and numerous delicious potluck dinners. Happy birthday, Tom!